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University of Colorado students Ryan Colla and Kevin Howes are making the most of dorm life beyond their first year of college.

Colla, a CU junior and Howes, a sophomore, are living in Willard Hall -- one of the university's residence halls, which are mostly occupied by freshmen.

This fall the pair has started the Sophomore Peer Initiative Network, or SPIN, a program for upperclassmen and sophomores to help them make the most of dorm life.

"SPIN is basically a program to give sophomores and upperclassmen special opportunities and resources, like educational and career advice, not available to freshmen," Colla said. "There are already a lot of perks to living in the dorms after your freshman year, like being on campus, so SPIN is just adding to that."

Howes said they are hoping to bring guest speakers from the Boulder and CU communities to talk to the group about topics voted on by the members. Résumé building, internship and job hunting skills, course scheduling and assistance for moving off-campus are some of the topics already discussed, Howes said.

This year, there are 23 percent more returning students in the dorms than last year, according to administrators in CU Housing.


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That brings the number of non-freshmen in the dorms up to about 11 percent thanks in part to a recent push from Housing, including the implementation of new programs like SPIN, said John Fox, CU's assistant housing director.

"These programs engage students with faculty and provide a supportive environment that encourages students to return," Fox said. "The program offerings are designed for students who have already transitioned into the role of college student."

Housing still has a way to go before meeting their ultimate goal of 20 percent returning students in the dorms but Colla and Howes are hoping SPIN will be visible to freshmen living in Willard, encouraging them to return to campus living in as a sophomore.

"It's really become one community at Willard instead of the separation of classes," Colla said. "We want the freshmen to see what's available to them if they come back."

Howes said most of the resources provided to the SPIN members are already available on campus, like professional and academic advising. The group is meant to provide easier access to campus and community resources for its members.

The group plans to meet about three times per month with two educational and one social event each month. The meetings are open to any sophomores or upperclassmen living in Willard Hall.